Coexistence 203: How To Stay Legally Safe

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Coexistence 202: Conflicts

DISCLAIMER: None of this is legal advice. It’s all common sense or ideas heard from others. If you follow this advice and get sued, it’s not my fault.

You can generally avoid most legal issues by being a decent human being

Likable people are less likely to be dragged into a legal battle

  • If you behave reasonably with everyone and adequately research before you act, the only people who will litigate against you are trying to abuse the law

Court systems are made to punish lawbreakers, and your genuine innocence is the best legal defense possible

  • Discrimination in court is historically common but far more commonly delivers appropriate sentences

Existing in a public place has innate risks

Having an open container of alcohol in public is considered public drunkenness, even if you aren’t drinking it

  • If you’re drunk sleeping in your car and the keys are in the ignition, it’s a DUI

It’s illegal to use someone’s public WiFi network without their permission

If you ever physically touch anyone, even a child, it can be counted as assault if someone presses charges

  • Even plashing a drink on someone can be counted as battery

Watch what you say with any officials

You are rarely under obligation to answer a police officer’s questions when stopped in the street

  • Stay private as much as reasonable, since the police often see themselves as part of the prosecutor’s team even when you’re not defending yourself

In the USA, you have to say your name and what you are doing at the present moment, but you don’t have to say anything else

  • If they press the matter, you can say “I want a lawyer”
  • Don’t plead the Fifth, since it’s built to favor the police based on the timing that you plead it
  • If they ask to search anything you own, including your vehicle, they are required to tell you what they suspect you have

You can unintentionally implicate yourself if you tell any information at all to the police

  • If you make any mistakes in retelling what happened, you’ve technically falsified information
  • The officer may incorrectly remember what you said in front of a judge
  • Police have no obligation to tell you the truth and may trick you into saying inaccurate things
  • Your statements to police could mix with faulty eyewitness accounts, poor testimonies, and bad luck to convict you of a serious crime

Honor all traffic laws while driving

Use your blinkers, even if you don’t think anyone is watching

Police hide on long straightaways to track speeding drivers

  • They will often follow you for several miles to find a series of offenses to write a harsher ticket

Pay attention to truck drivers slowing down since they communicate police presence via CB radio

  • Use an app like Waze to observe where police often watch for traffic violations

If you are ever pulled over by the police

Turn on the interior lights to show you have nothing to hide

Keep your hands visible at all times

Tell them when you are grabbing something and avoid making any sudden movements

You can avoid identity theft with a few rules

Make sure your computer is free of viruses or trojans

When using an ATM

  • Check for any cameras above that could capture your PIN
  • Wiggle the card scanner to check for tampering
  • Wiggle the keypad to see if it’s fake

Stay out of court when you can

Avoid conflicts of interest

  • Mixing personal and business
  • Loaning or borrowing from clients
  • Investing in questionable deals
  • Discriminating for or against someone

Learn to set proper boundaries with people

If you apologize by force of habit you’ve made an unintentional admission of guilt

Other people can use any unnecessary information you disclosed for things like slander or false advertising

Manage expectations at the outset and throughout your engagement with others

  • Put everything into a record of some sort, preferably writing
  • Only make promises you can fulfill
  • Make predictions with constant disclaimers that it’s likely but not guaranteed
  • If anything changes, notify everyone involved immediately

Always have documentation of what everyone agreed on and performed

  • Be vigilant for any drift from the agreed terms
  • Keep everyone within the scope of duty by appending or amending the document as needed
  • Include a mediation clause or limitation of liability clause in all engagements

Learn what a reasonable cost for the services and goods you’re performing or requesting

  • If you are overpaying, learn from it and move on instead of risking legal fees to regain your losses
  • Be cautious of emerging high-risk areas, especially new ventures or small operations

Provide only within your range of expertise and support

  • Be careful moving out of your comfort zone to “round out” your service capacity
  • Keep an excellent attorney with a specialization in your needed legal coverage

Pay attention to who is suing and why

  • Many lawsuits come from parties-in-interest not directly making the agreement
  • Many attorneys create work for themselves by pursuing illegitimate cases they can change conditions in to win on a technicality

Trust others, but verify them

  • Screen people and perform background checks
  • There may be a highly illegal reason someone has approached you for a business arrangement

Watch the timing of what you say

  • Only speak when you know for sure you aren’t getting recorded
  • If you know someone tends to take screenshots of conversations in messenger apps, send them audio recordings instead

Make going to court simple

If someone sues you, try settling if you can’t resolve it with an effective negotiation

A lawsuit is meant to recover damages, but proving non-material damages like emotional/psychological damage is often challenging

  • People usually sue from a desire for justice or imagine they’ll come out ahead financially
  • Suing for unpaid fees is rarely worth the cost

Take advantage of legal circumstances to your benefit

Instead of 911 for a non-emergency, call 311

Traffic laws don’t apply to private property, which includes parking lots

  • Handicapped parking signs on the ground are only enforceable with posted signs

Outside of breaking and entering (such as climbing a fence), private property signs have no legal enforceability

For a minimal fee, you can register your dog as an “emotional support animal” and landlords can’t discriminate or raise their rent when renting to you

If your car is about to get towed, jump inside it to make any further action on their end kidnapping

To decrease the risk of a parking ticket, place the envelope from a different parking ticket under your windshield wipers

Next: Coexistence 301: How To Write